April 7, 2020

Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Wallingford, PA
(Habitat: backyard bird feeder; suburban deciduous forest edge/field)

9:30 – 11:00 am: It was a warm spring morning, about 65 degrees F and partly cloudy. When I first headed out, the skies were blue and the sun was bright, but as time went on, the sun went in and out and was hidden behind clouds by around 10:30 am. Since most of the parks are closed near me, I ended up going back to the field that I did my last journal at—at the edge of a small patch of deciduous woods. I also started out at our backyard bird feeders because just the day before, our newest visitors included some American Goldfinches and a Red-winged Blackbird! But this morning, the only visitors were a Song Sparrow and an Eastern Gray Squirrel.

Once I arrived at the field, I encountered lots of robins and a few chickadees! According to the Audubon Society, American Robins tend to be permanent residents in Pennsylvania, and if they are migrating, they may have only come from a few miles away. Their winter food source is primarily fruit, so they are probably able to survive in our area off of winter shrubs that produce berries, especially now that our winters are getting warmer. However, climate change must impact their migration patterns if they do migrate, making them more susceptible to extreme spring weather if they migrate early. Black-capped Chickadees are definitely permanent residents of this area; I imagine that as a flock species, they use the power of numbers to stay protected from predators and find food during the winter. They are also able to eat a fairly diverse diet of fruit, insects, seeds and animal fats, making them adaptable and resilient to changing conditions.

About 10 minutes after I got to the field, I noticed some movement in one of the arborvitae trees that line the fence separating the field and the woods. I saw a tiny olive-gray bird, but it was deep in the branches so I couldn’t make out many other features. I thought it might be some kind of sparrow because of the black and white lines on its wings, but it flew out of sight before I could get closer. I turned my focus to some of the other birds around me—including a fair number of House Finches, House Sparrows and a few Song Sparrows—but it wasn’t long before I noticed the same bird in a tree a few feet away. I was able to creep closer and as it hopped in and out of sight, I thought I saw a flash of red on its head. Then it hit me! “Oh my god did I just see a Ruby-crowned Kinglet?” I actually asked myself out loud, a bit too excited by the fact that what we learned in class was being applied in the real world (as a budding bird nerd does). But it was so brief that I couldn’t be sure. Suffice it to say, this little guy continued to cross paths with me throughout the next hour and a half, always in one of the arborvitaes and keeping himself well-concealed but confirming my original ID. They may not be the rarest bird, but I had never seen one before learning them for our quiz, so I was delighted by this one, and how many chances he gave me to identify him! According to Audubon’s and Cornell’s websites, Ruby-crowned Kinglets are short-distance migrants who winter in the southern US and Mexico. Pennsylvania is considered non-breeding grounds for them, so this one was likely on his way to breeding grounds further north in New England and Canada. Since facultative migrants tend to respond to short-term stimuli such as changes in vegetation and temperature, warmer weather and the return of foliage likely brought this Kinglet up here.

Mini Activity: I didn’t see any obligate migrants on this excursion, but I looked up the distances for the Ruby-crowned Kinglet and two other possible short-distance migrants, Song Sparrows and American Robins. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet may have traveled the furthest—they have been seen as far south as Guatemala, but many winter in Mexico, so I used the distance from Mexico City to my hometown, Wallingford, PA which is about 2500 miles. Then, both Song Sparrows and American Robins are known to winter down in Florida, so I measured the distance from Tampa—about 1025 miles. All together, these three birds’ possible journeys total 4550 miles! And they all still have a ways to go if they’re still en route to their northernmost breeding grounds.

Anotado por mreilly20 mreilly20, abril 09, jueves 03:51

Observaciones

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Gorrión Cantor Melospiza melodia

Autor

mreilly20

Fecha

Abril 7, 2020 09:24 AM HST

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Carbonero de Capucha Negra Poecile atricapillus

Autor

mreilly20

Fecha

Abril 7, 2020 09:38 AM HST

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Reyezuelo Matraquita Regulus calendula

Autor

mreilly20

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Abril 7, 2020 09:41 AM HST

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Pinzón Mexicano Haemorhous mexicanus

Autor

mreilly20

Fecha

Abril 7, 2020 09:56 AM HST

Descripción

6 House Finches (and a bonus House Sparrow!)

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Mirlo Primavera Turdus migratorius

Autor

mreilly20

Fecha

Abril 7, 2020 09:37 AM HST

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Gorrión Europeo Passer domesticus

Autor

mreilly20

Fecha

Abril 7, 2020 10:14 AM HST

Fotos / Sonidos

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Gorrión Cantor Melospiza melodia

Autor

mreilly20

Fecha

Abril 7, 2020 10:29 AM HST

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